Sciatica

The term 'sciatica' describes pain along the course of the sciatic nerve in the lumbar spine that causes pain to radiate from the back down the leg in the distribution innervated by one of five distinct nerves: L1 = groin, L2 = upper thigh, L3 = middle thigh, L4 = knee, L5 = shin, top of foot, big toe, S1 = lateral calf, heel, bottom of foot (caused by a herniated disc chemical irritation from an annular tear).

This condition is an irritation or compression of one or more nerve roots in the lumbar spine. Because these nerves travel to the hips, buttocks, legs and feet, an injury in the lumbar spine can cause symptoms in these areas. Sciatica may result from a variety of problems with the bones and tissues of the lumbar spinal column.

Do you have sciatica?

What symptoms should you look for if you suspect you may be suffering from sciatica? Sciatica can come and go, cause numbness and tingling, or unrelenting pain. When the symptoms persist or recur more and more frequently, an MRI will help determine whether the abnormality can explain the location or distribution of the leg symptoms.

What are your treatment options?

Non-surgical treatment with rest and medications, if it relieves symptoms, is usually adequate, but if symptoms persist, there are minimally invasive methods to resolve symptoms that may involve discography, epidural blocks, endoscopic surgery, or open spine surgery to decompress the disc to close the annular tear. Recurrences will always be a risk, but is less with the least invasive approaches. You should always consult your physician and discuss what the best course of treatment for your particular pain would be.